Potential SF Giants breakout prospect experiments with new position in High-A

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San Francisco Giants v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

Quinn McDaniel is off to a hot start with the Eugene Emeralds. However, the SF Giants 2023 fifth-round pick is adding some versatility to his résumé. On Thursday, he started in center field for the Emeralds for the first time in his young, pro career.

Potential SF Giants breakout prospect experiments with new position in High-A

When the Giants selected McDaniel last summer, he was announced as a second baseman. He had some experience at shortstop with the University of Maine, but he primarily played on the right side of the infield.

The second base-only profile is a tough task for prospects to overcome because it is usually a sign that a player does not have enough range to move around the diamond. Plus, second basemen usually have the weakest arm among the non-first base infielders. There is a reason they are at second base and they usually need to hit a lot to offset that.

That could be where McDaniel is. However, the Giants second base prospect does have excellent speed. He stole at least 15 bases in each of his three seasons in college and has already swiped four bags in five opportunities in 2024.

With above-average speed and athleticism, the Giants front office usually sees this as a sign that a player can handle center field. Mauricio Dubón, Brett Wisely, and Tyler Fitzgerald are all above-average runners whom the Giants asked to play the outfield. McDaniel could be the next in line and it gives him another way to stay in the lineup.

Not the this is much of an issue with Eugene where he has already established himself as one of the better hitters on the team. However, being able to play center field could help down the road as he moves through the minors.

The right-handed bat slashed .258/.424/.495 with six home runs, 19 RBI, and 25 runs in 125 plate appearances split between two levels last year. This includes eight steals in nine opportunities. McDaniel has recorded seven hits in 16 at-bats to start this season.

Placing McDaniel in High-A to start the year is not necessarily an aggressive assignment by the Giants. Given that he was a college player, it is a reasonable placement for a player in his first full season as a pro. However, it is a sign that the Giants felt he was already above the Low-A competition he faced briefly with San Jose last year. If McDaniel continues at this pace, there is a good chance that he moves up to Double-A sooner rather than later. And, being able to handle center field could only help his case.